The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls was picked up at a used book store a while back and I’m so glad I did. It’s a memoir about Jeannette’s nontraditional family, some might use the words “dysfunctional” or “unhealthy” or “messed up” to describe the parent and child relationships. Never are the children’s needs put before the parents’, and that includes food, clothing, water, a safe or clean place to live. One chapter after another you’re told of her childhood and little by little you lose more and more respect for the mother and father and yet the children still find a place in their hearts for love and forgiveness. It’s astounding!
At the end of the book you can’t help but think about the ongoing debate of nature vs nurture. The children are forced, from a very young age, to become self sufficient, tough little people who are barely given anything to work with and still, these kids find a way to not disrespect people (unless those people are acting quite indecently), they look after each other and they’re brilliant. How do these kids survive a family so bravely and eloquently? You hear of people going through much less and doing much worse. I’m beginning to think it’s not either one – it’s nature and/or it’s nurture, depending on the child.
At the same time, you see what the parents are trying to teach the kids and when they’re not drunk or completely self involved, although you may not always agree with their methods, the idea behind the lessons are important. It’s hard to judge these people – sometimes. They have their backgrounds and their reasons for everything they do and that’s something we all need to remember – we all have a past.
The Glass Castle is beautifully written. Page after page I felt a plethora of emotions and I didn’t mind that. Now that I know there is another book by Jeannette Walls that tells the story of her grandmother, I’m eager to see if the Fernie Heritage Library has it.
And that’s in my uneducated opinion.